"None of us... including me... ever do great things. But we can all do small things, with great love, and together we can do something wonderful"
~ Mother Theresa
~ Mother Theresa
Each week, I generally receive several e-mails about that particular week’s blog.
Most of the time, it’s a very positive note explaining how the topic of the week somehow touched them individually.
I love getting e-mail from readers...
... complimentary one as well as critical ones (truth be told... I actually like the critical ones better as they tend to push me to try and be a better writer).
Last week was basically the same with several readers taking some of their valuable time to send me their acknowledgement of a job well done... however... one e-mailer brought up a very good point as a counter-argument to last week’s blog about individual accomplishment...
Their point was simply this...
While it is exciting to be a lone adventurer out exploring the world... creating shared experiences is far more rewarding in the end...
Once again... I took some time to reflect on a very salient point...
Although some of my greatest life successes and adventures have seemingly been as an individual, upon further thought... it appears that these successes always involved other people...
Certainly there were times when individual achievement triumphed... but many of my greatest successes were often shared with a team of people... and that’s what made the win so much more memorable.
Being a part of a team can be a rich and rewarding experience for a multitude of reasons... but here are just a few to consider:
There are times when 1+1+1=5 instead of 3.
I remember once when I was trying to drywall my garage by myself. After an entire day... I had only complete about one-third of the job.
The following day my brother came over to help. One person held the drywall in place... the other person secured it to the studs.
The two of us, working together, were able to knock out the remaining two-thirds of the project before lunch...
On a football team, there are players who run with the ball, who pass the ball, who catch the ball, and those who block.
Different players have different individual skills and talents... and that’s what makes a team successful. Each person is good at their respective job and a team is successful because they have the right person doing the right job at the right time.
The same can be said for a business.
A successful business needs sales people, accountants, operational personnel, marketing, HR and trainers, IT, and a host of other specialized functions (some positions more than others).
It takes an entire team, each performing to their best abilities, for the business to become successful.
Teams are necessary to magnify the positives and minimize the weaknesses of any organization.
Many times, innovation comes from taking existing ideas and extending them to new applications or building them into better ideas.
When Apple decided to create the iPhone, they felt as though they couldn’t use a plastic screen because it seemed cheap. Glass, on the other hand, was a better material but it could get easily scratched. There were hundreds of engineers working on solving this problem.
One member of the team had read about Corning’s "gorilla glass", a scratch resistant glass used in storefront windows, which had been around for some 50 years, and brought the idea to Steve Jobs.
Gorilla glass wasn’t new... but it took a team of people to figure out how to apply it in a new way.
Brainstorming occurs when a group of people share, improve and refine ideas together. Whereas one person might start with a seed, others in the group can help to make that seed grow.
The other big reason team ideas are typically better than individual ideas is because of the scrutiny and feedback that the other team members can provide to make sure that the idea is sound.
There are many times where I get so close to an idea that I can no longer be objective. It’s at those moments when I appreciate the comments and feedback of others to help my ideas grow.
It is often said that if you really want to be successful starting a new exercise program, you should to find a partner who you will be accountable to.
After a long day at work, it’s hard to motivate yourself to head to the gym instead of heading home. Knowing that someone else is depending on you will often give you the extra incentive to actually do those things that you might not have discipline to do on your own.
Being accountable to the members of your team forces us to focus our energies in being a responsible and contributing team member... especially if the other members of the team are working just as hard.
The strange thing is that as we use the team to find our motivation, other members of the team are using us as their motivation... and everyone wins.
If accountability is the stick, then encouragement is the carrot.
There will be those times when you just don’t feel up to the tasks at hand. You really are tired, you might be stressed, or you might be down due to a few setbacks. It is at those times when some encouraging words will help us to keep going rather than quitting.
Encouragement helps us to think about the thrill of the achievement of the end... rather than the drudgery of the present.
It helps us to get out of our comfort zones and pushes us to go just one more step further in our quest.
Encouragement is there to pick us up when we fail but never allows us to get overly confident when we succeed knowing that there are other challenges waiting for us beyond the next horizon.
I have mostly competed in activities that would be considered by most to be individual sporting events... wrestling, cycling, golf, and tennis... yet most of my treasured memories have come when I competed in those activities as a member of a team.
As a team, we celebrated victories joyously together as one body. We danced and reveled in achievements together.
If we failed at reaching the pinnacles of our goals, we cried together, consoling each other knowing that we’ll work ever harder to find a way to win the next time we have the opportunity.
These are the lasting moments I have treasured throughout my life... not the individual achievements but those that I was able to share with my teammates... be it in sport, business, school, or simply a weekend project.
My friends, colleagues and family often get together and recount the moments of time that we shared together.
Moments often highlighted by significant events or accomplishments...
At that point, we have a kinship knowing that we shared a bit of history together... something that belongs exclusively to the other members of the team...
Memories that we can hold dear to the end of time...
Thank you very much for your support of OptiFuse where we hope to become a part of your team...